• Just 9% of room seekers say the property they live in is more important than their flatmates
• 39% of searches on SpareRoom.co.uk are based on lifestyle, hobbies or interests of future flatmates; 31% are based on religion or nationality
• Unusual search terms include 'vegan', 'naked', 'banter' and 'food included'
Forget double-glazing, a friendly landlord, and room to swing a cat. What's really important in Britain's 2 million flat and house shares – according to new research from flatshare website SpareRoom.co.uk of 10,000 users in 2012 – is the people.
Keywords entered into SpareRoom's search box in the past year reveal that, while the property itself is an important consideration for many room seekers, future housemates are often more important, accounting for almost three quarters of (73%) searches. As the table below shows, almost four in 10 (39%) total searches relate to the lifestyle, hobbies or interests, of potential flatmates while almost a third (31%) of all searches are related to their nationality or religion. Another 3% relate to their professions. By contrast, just over a quarter (27%) of searches are based on property type:
In addition, SpareRoom research of more than 1,000 room seekers reveals that almost a third (32%) think people are the most important element of a flat or house share, with just one in ten (9%) saying the property itself is their main consideration. Almost six in 10 (59%) say both the people and the property are equally important to them.
Keywords entered into SpareRoom's search box in the past year reveal some surprises too, with room seekers hunting for shared accommodation with food included, and for vegan housemates with a penchant for taking their clothes off. The table below shows 10 of the strangest search terms on the site:
Matt Hutchinson, director of SpareRoom, comments: "Flatsharing is all about people – who you live with is how you live. The sheer amount of searches related to the personalities, lifestyles and preferences of future flatmates shows just how important it is to get on with and like the people you live with. For many, that means finding flatmates with similar hobbies or lifestyles or shared backgrounds.
"As more people cotton on to the affordability and social advantages of flatsharing, it really is gaining popularity. We've seen flatsharer figures rise by almost a third in just two years and our research shows that half of flatsharers are returning to shared accommodation after renting solo or with a partner – many in a bid to save deposits to get onto the property ladder sooner.
"It's clear from searches on our site that many room seekers are looking to save money, which explains why some are searching for 'bills included' – suggesting they need to budget carefully and that cost is an issue. But there are some rather wishful thinkers that have been for searching for 'food included' and 'no deposit', which might appear on SpareRoom once in a blue moon!"